The Yale Ciencia Academy (YCA) is a free year-long program that equips biomedical or health sciences doctoral students from underrepresented backgrounds in the final 1-2 years of their programs with the knowledge, skills, and networks they need to find great postdoctoral positions that will further their academic interests and career goals. YCA is funded by grant R25GM114000 from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Over the course of one year, fellows will become part of a supportive peer community; develop important career planning, mentoring, and scientific and interpersonal communication skills and products; and connect with role models from diverse backgrounds.
Since 2016, we have trained five cohorts and a total of 194 biomedical and health sciences doctoral students from at least 71 institutions in 28 states and Puerto Rico.
Phase I of the program (2015 - 2020) was open to doctoral students in the biomedical and health sciences at all stages of training and with a range of career interests. The majority of fellows were from backgrounds underrepresented in academia in terms of gender, ethnicity, race, disability, family educational attainment, undergraduate college, and place of birth. Students were also diverse in terms of their training stage, their candidacy, and research interests.
During Phase I, we were also successful in recruiting a large number (n=138) of scientific role models that reflected the diversity of the students. These were 60% female, 56% Hispanic, and 10% African American and represented a variety of career outcomes, work sectors, types of academic universities and appointments, and ages, to demonstrate to students that there are many ways to be successful in science.
Data from our first three cohorts shows that YCA has improved PhD completion; enhanced mentoring, communication, and planning skills and self-efficacy; and empowered doctoral students from diverse backgrounds to be more intentional about their careers. After the program, 68% of fellows were more knowledgeable about career options available to them, 53% had more clarity on what they needed to do to achieve their preferred career, 43% understood better how to find information to achieve their goals, and 55% could better find and talk to people to advise them about their career goals. Notably, 44% of fellows were clearer about the career they wanted after the program. This is important, as studies show that many students become more confused about what career to pursue as their PhD progresses.
Phase II of YCA (2021 - 2025) builds on the strategies and trainings that resulted in doctoral students being more proactive and intentional towards their career goals during Phase I. We have tailored our innovative interventions to address the needs and training gaps of underrepresented minority (URM) students during the PhD to postdoc transition in response to recommendations from YCA alumni as well as a review of the literature.
Yale Ciencia Academy is a collaboration between Yale School of Medicine Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, CienciaPR, and iBiology, created by Dr. Giovanna-Guerrero-Medina and run by the staff of the Yale Ciencia Initiative.
To learn more about this program, visit the YCA website:
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